University of California
351B Koshland Hall
Berkeley CA 94720
Microbial Biology, Genetics & Genomics
We study the use of ammonium, a major source of nitrogen, by bacteria. Recently, we've learned that bacteria can obtain ammonium through novel active membrane channels. The Rhesus (Rh) proteins of humans and other organisms are the only known protein relatives of ammonium channels. We have evidence that they are channels for carbonic acid (hydrated carbon dioxide). Although the Rh blood group substance is very abundant in human red cells and is well known for the immunological problems it causes between Rh negative mothers and their Rh positive offspring, the primary function of Rh proteins has been unknown for over six decades.